This is Finke’s first coaching role in international football, with most of the German’s managerial career spent in his home country, including a 16-year spell with SC Freiburg. He replaced Jean-Paul Akono in May 2013, his limited fluency in French making him an unexpected choice.

Uninspiring in qualifying, Cameroon partially relied on some slack administrative work from one of their opponents to reach the African play-offs, where they beat Tunisia over two legs. In the group stage, they lost 2-0 away to Togo, but the hosts’ ineligible fielding of midfielder Alaixys Romao meant Cameroon got an automatic 3-0 victory to help them through to the play-offs.

A country with an excellent football pedigree, Cameroon always expect to qualify, but how far they realistically believe they can go in Brazil is another question. “I don’t think there’s much to choose between Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon, and those games will be crucial,” coach Volker Finke said after the Final Draw, suggesting he believes a second-place finish behind Brazil is possible.

Their hopes are dependent on Finke’s tactical decisions. When playing 4-4-2 with four defensive midfielders and no pure wingers, Cameroon have been sapped of creativity. Conversely, when Finke opted for 4-3-3 in the second play-off match against Tunisia – in which he fielded Benjamin Moukandjo and Samuel Eto’o on either side of forward Pierre Webo – their much-improved fluency aided a 4-1 win. Many see Eto’o as the key player, but if Cameroon get through the group it will be because of their defensive security, to which Nicolas N’Koulou is crucial.

Fixtures Group A

Natal 14 June 2014

Manaus 19 June 2014

Brasilia 24 June 2014

*Dates are AEST

Tournament history
Previous tournaments: 6

2010 FIFA World Cup performance
Group stage

Best performance
Quarter-finals, 1990

How they qualified
Winners, African Group I
Beat Tunisia in play-offs